Microgrant Program

Transformation | Collaboration | Community: 2020 Food Council Microgrants

We’re inviting food councils to be funders! With the 2020 microgrants, we want you to better understand each other’s work and decide where the money goes. To do that, we’re experimenting with an alternative, participatory grant-making process, called Shared Gifting.

Each existing food council that is currently a part of our NC Food Council Network is invited to join a regional Shared Gifting Circle with other food councils.  Each participating food council in the Gifting Circle will receive funds for your participation and receive funds to gift to other food councils.  You make the decisions on who and how much to gift to the other Circle participants in that region.

Got questions?

Join our team for Microgrant Open Talk time!

  • Thu, Aug 6, 2:00 – 3:00pm
    • Zoom Link Passcode: 134819
      One tap mobile +13126266799,,95046114733#,,,,,,0#,,134819# US (Chicago)
  • Tue, Aug 11, 10:00 – 11:00am
    • Zoom Link – Meeting ID: 952 6295 4592
      Passcode: 969468
      One tap mobile +16465189805,,95262954592#,,,,,,0#,,969468# US (New York)
  • “This process mightily enriches the peer to peer sharing at the heart of Maine Network of Community Food Councils.  Each Council learns about the work of the others…  Councils really begin to feel like they are the network, and innovation is greatly accelerated across the Network.”

    Ken Morse, Co-Coordinator
    Maine Network of Community Food Councils has been using Shared Gifting for several years.

Food Councils in each Shared Gifting Circle

The food councils engaged in our network below are encouraged to apply as an individual food council or in collaboration with other food councils.

Shared Gifting

To better understand shared gifting, watch this video below or review these RSF Social Finances resources.

2020 Microgrant Overview Webinar

Watch this informational webinar for an overview of shared gifting, the microgrant specifics, and an introduction into implicit bias to prepare us to be the funders.

Eligibility

  • Applicants are active food councils.
  • Applicants have been engaged in the North Carolina network of local food councils.
  • All NC food councils, whether applying for grant funds or not, are invited to participate in the shared gifting process to distribute funds.

Are we a food council?

Food councils are not one-size-fits-all, and not all are called ‘councils.’ If you are a new council, are new to this network, or have questions about whether your cross-sector group qualifies to apply, please consider the definition of a food council click button below and then contact us at communityfoodstrategies@gmail.com.

Responsibilities of Applicants & Shared Gifting Circle Participants

  • Familiarize yourself with Shared Gifting by viewing the webinar and resources.
  • Submit a completed application with multiple members of your food council
  • Secure an entity to accept/distribute the funds (fiscal agent, community organization, 501(c)3, etc)
    • We will need a W-9 and direct deposit paperwork for this entity
  • Ensure 2-3* food council members participate in both two half-day virtual events. Attendees must participate in Day 1 in order to participate in Day 2.
    • *Youth food councils may have up to five total food council members participate.
  • Complete a short evaluation of the project and how the funds were used

Applications due at 11:59pm on Monday, August 17th

Timeline

  • June: Shared Gifting Overview webinars were held on June 24 & June 30th
  • July 9: Grant invitation sent to all active councils
  • August 6th & 11th: Open Talk Hours – call in to ask our team any questions about your microgrant application
  • August 17: Application deadline
  • Shared Gifting Circles:
    • Each region’s Shared Gifting Circle will take place over two days. 
    • Day 1 will begin on a Thursday at 1pm
    • Day 2 will begin the following Tuesday at 9am 
  • Triangle – Sep 10, Sep 15
  • Charlotte –  Sep 17, Sep 22
  • West – Sep 24, Sep 29
  • Southeast –  Oct 1, Oct 6
  • Northeast – Oct 8, Oct 13
  • Triad – Oct 15, Oct 20

Questions

If you have questions, please contact us at communityfoodstrategies@gmail.com.

Frequently Asked Questions

The logistics and process for the 2020 Food Council Microgrants using the Shared Gifting model are explained on the Shared Gifting webinar linked above.  We strongly recommend all applicants review the webinar recording and reviewing these questions and answers below before completing the application.

What sort of projects would you suggest a brand new food council should consider?

  • This funding is flexible and intended to support food councils accomplish their equity-based food work.  These are small grants and we do not want you to spend too much time on these applications. 
  • Potential ideas include funding for coordinators or interns, network support, field trips, hosting community conversations, training & professional development, local foods promotion & marketing materials.

Will mentoring or assistance with applications be available? 

  • Yes, we are hosting two Open Talk Times for anyone to join the team for questions or consultation.  Contact us and we’ll add you to the calendar invite. Also, anyone at anytime is encouraged to contact your region leads directly or Gini Knight at gini_knight@ncsu.edu.
  • Thu, Aug 6, 2:00 – 3:00pm

Can we have several smaller projects instead of one large project?

  • Sure, this is flexible funding. You are welcome to have multiple projects within your budget.  Food councils are open to crafting any type of proposal that will advance your council’s equity-based food work.

Are there differences in expectations for newly emerging food councils versus food councils that have been in existence for awhile?

  • The expectations for all participants will be the same. All participants in these Shared Gifting Circles meet the same criteria and have been engaged with this network through workshops, gatherings, quarterly calls, or other opportunities. Newer councils will likely have different strategies for their work than food councils that have been doing this for many years.  Both groups can benefit from fresh and seasoned experience.

We will submit an application by August 17th, but can we refine the proposals and possibly change them during our collaboration time in September/October?

  • Absolutely. We will encourage dialogue and feedback to each other’s proposals during the two half days together. We would be surprised if all the projects stay the same after these two days of conversation. We are hoping this process will invite new connections and improvements to proposals.

Since an understanding of implicit bias is critical to equity-based work, how will an implicit bias lens be integrated into these projects? 

  • As an entry point, we held lecturettes on implicit bias in the Shared Gifting Overview webinar and are requiring all applicants to review the webinar and complete the Harvard Implicit Bias test. The question in the microgrant application – who is benefiting from this project and how are they involved? – aims to encourage reflection on project impact and community engagement?  By holding these facilitated Shared Gifting Circles we will encourage conversation and count on each other to highlight each other’s biases and blind spots. 

When should the projects be completed?

  • By the end of 2021

When will we receive the funding?

  • Grants should be distributed in November. We’ll begin working with each food council right away to finalize paperwork in early September.

How many food council members can attend?

  • Councils should decide on two to three council members to attend both days and represent their food councils.  The only exception is for youth led food councils.  Youth food councils may have up to five council members attend. 

If our food council isn’t interested in receiving funding for a project, can council members still participate or just listen and learn?

  • If council members are not interested in receiving funds for a project, they can still participate.  This is a participatory process, so just observing or listening is not an option. We still request an application to be completed for councils to participate so we know which councils to expect and which council members will be attending.   
  • Councils can receive up to $1000 as a reimbursement for their time.  They can also forfeit the $1000 if it is not needed, and the funds will be redistributed for gifting across the network. 

Can council members just attend one day?

  • Food council applicants must attend both days to receive funding. Participating council members are expected to attend both days, and must attend Day 1 to participate in Day 2.

What will the actual decision making process look like? 

  • Great question.  Our team has been coached by other experts across the nation in this process and will be using our best facilitation skills to help regions come to an agreement on how these funds will be distributed.  We will be working with an open Google Spreadsheet with each food council and their requested budget amounts.  Councils will enter the amounts they are willing to gift in two separate rounds.  Councils will share why they chose those amounts and what their reactions are to the amounts they received.

Given that our region has significant differences across our counties and food councils, how will this process work given that context? 

  • It’s true that every city, town, county, and region is different with varying resources,  assets, and opportunities. Applicants in each Shared Gifting Circle will have a common passion for and goal of working towards food systems change.  The specific issues each food council is working on may be different, and their understanding and analysis of the issues may be different.  We are confident that all participants will have relevant and sufficient experience to be curious and ask helpful questions. As facilitators of the process, our team is also planning time to make sure participants have a good understanding of each other’s work before the funding process begins.  We also encourage all participants to read the proposals in advance to best understand the projects.

Are there incentives for collaborative projects? 

  • There are no specific funding incentives for collaborative proposals. Although there are certainly benefits to collaborative projects such as leveraging more resources and staff, adding more brains to creative ideas, building working relationships with other councils, and others. We do encourage collaboration and are open to groups working with other councils on projects.  Given this process, it is up to the participants in each Shared Gifting region to decide where the funding goes. 

Are you envisioning that we may end up collaborating and building a bigger/collaborative project among two or more councils through this process? 

  • Yes and no.  We don’t have an expectation that collaboration will happen on these specific projects or immediately, and that is a possibility. We are interested in seeing new collaborations and connections come out of these discussions and funding circles, particularly as you better understand each others’ work. 

Any other questions?

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